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Ikigai is an ancient Japanese word meaning something like ‘your reason for living’. Finding your ikigai is understanding what makes you get out of bed every morning. To meet this purpose, you must follow a five-step roadmap that will require a good deal of self-awareness.

By Alan Samons

With the Covid-19 lockdown continuing in some form or another (and probably will for quite a while), one of the positives that has come from it is that people have had the rare opportunity to put their lives on pause and to think deeply on their values, needs and wants. Lockdown nearly drove me mad. My partner lost his mum a week before lockdown and our gentle furkid, Onyx, passed away during lockdown. I nearly went to pieces. My mum, who is eighty-eight, was unable to leave the old age home and I was unable to visit for weeks on end. We’re very close, as she’s my only immediate family. Luckily, she’s still in good shape and is able to take care of herself. Then, in January, a good friend from my student days passed away from Covid complications. All these experiences were almost too much to deal with, but I was determined to find something positive, however small, to keep myself going. The Gay Pages didn’t close – many other titles were closed down permanently due to the draconian lockdown restrictions. Since we work from home, it was pretty much work as usual. That structure and continuous routine was a godsend and helped us all stay grounded and provided a sense of familiarity as opposed to feeling totally adrift. 

The Chinese character for ‘crisis’ is composed of two symbols, meaning ‘danger’ and ‘change point’. It is erroneously thought that the second character means ‘opportunity’, but that’s completely incorrect. 

Ironic, no? We really are at a dangerous change point on a personal, societal, and planetary level…

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